MANILA, Jan. 18, 2017–The head of the country’s bishops took a subtle swipe at the moves to revive the death penalty in the country— an indication, he said, that some people are ‘afraid of mercy’.
Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, lamented the difficulty to find mercy, “the essence of Christianity”.
“We need mercy yet we are afraid to show mercy. Instead of mercy, there is terror. Instead of mercy, there is anger. Instead of mercy, there is death penalty. Instead of mercy, there is revenge,” Villegas said.
“Why? because we are afraid to look at mercy in the eyes. We are afraid that mercy will challenge us to be merciful and we are not ready!” he said.
The prelate made the statement in his homily during Mass at the second day of the 4th World Apostolic Congress on Mercy (WACOM) held at the UST Pavillon in Manila on Tuesday.
And among the signs that prevents people from being merciful is the fear of being opposed.
He said that if people will fight evil, it will strike them back “and so we keep quiet in the caves of our security and safety” to avoid criticisms.
“But brothers and sisters in Christ, the destiny of people who show mercy is martyrdom. And martyrdom is a great act of mercy,” Villegas said.
“The Gospel of mercy is a sign of contradiction. And the Gospel of mercy will disturb the promoters of the culture of death,” he added.
The archbishop also asked the faithful not to be afraid of being opposed if only to have a world that is capable of showing mercy.
“If there’s no greater love than to die for a beloved, there is no greater act of mercy than to die for those who do not even ask for our mercy because that is how God dealt with us,” said Villegas.
“Do not be afraid of the cross. Do not be afraid of becoming martyrs for mercy because that is the destiny of those who follow the Divine Mercy,” he said.
The proposed death penalty law for heinous crimes has passed committee-level approval at the House of Representatives in December last year.
Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynado Umali, who chairs the House justice committee, said that among the priority bills, the target is to have it approved by May or before the end of the first regular session. (Roy Lagarde/CBCPNews)